Danny Rand (otherwise known as Iron Fist) and Luke Cage couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds.
[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first four Defenders episodes.]
Upon meeting for the first time, the two heroes take an immense disliking to each other. Standing in an alleyway and throwing fists at one another, it’s not until later that the two realize they’re on the same side of the fight against the Hand. Brought together by Claire Temple, Rand’s friend and Cage’s girlfriend, the two are asked to talk their differences out while sitting in Colleen Wing’s dojo.
This, however, doesn’t help, but it does lead to one of the show’s earliest powerful scenes. Trying to explain to one another why they were in the alley that night and why they were willing to risk their lives to take on the Hand, Cage points out Rand is trying to beat up on teenagers who come from poverty and don’t deserve to be treated as criminal masterminds. Cage doesn’t understand how Rand can beat up desperate kids trying to survive, while Rand doesn’t fathom why Cage would want to protect assumed criminals.
The scene can be viewed in the video below.
“I know privilege when I see it,” Cage tells Rand after a heated debate about rights and wrongs. “You may think that you earned your strength, but you had power the day you were born. Before the dragons, before the chi ... you have the ability to change the world without getting anyone hurt.”
When Rand responds that Madame Gao and her assassin collective won’t be stopped that way, Cage reminds him that by enacting war on those who have nowhere else to turn isn’t the answer either.
“I’d think twice about trying to use that thing on people who were trying to feed their families,” Cage says, referring to Rand’s powerful, glowing fist.
It’s the first of many scenes in which Cage and Rand are at odds, but it does a good job of showcasing the two worlds the heroes come from. Rand, born into the wealthy, New York elite, and Cage, a longtime resident of Harlem, may have grown up a few miles apart, but had very different lives.
In The Defenders, a big part of Cage’s arc is figuring out how to be the “hero of Harlem” and bringing some stability to the crime-riddled neighborhood. He understands that many of the young kids who have gotten caught up with the Hand are trying to figure out how to help their families and Cage wants to try to get them out of the mess they’re in. Rand, Cage explains, just can’t understand what it’s like to live with that pressure.
Their different backgrounds and perspectives also provide the basis for one of the more interesting relationships on the show. Jessica Jones and Cage already have a history and Matt Murdock (Daredevil) is still very much the outsider. Rand and Cage bring some much needed human drama to the series and it’s their relationship that winds up being the most intriguing.
Still, there’s no stronger or more powerful moment shared between the two than the one above.
The Defenders is now streaming on Netflix.